El Cajon, CA
Clear sky
Clear sky:
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Articles by J. S. Anderson, USMC Ret.

The morning of Aug. 6 offered to be a pretty normal day for most folk in the East County. It started under a typical overcast, with sun and warmer temperatures later in the day forecast.  Great weather for bikers, including the veterans and military family members who began staging their motorcycles in front of El Cajon Harley Davidson.        

A metamorphosis of sorts may be underway in La Mesa, led in particular by the area locally referred to as the Village. After months of the Streetscape Project impacting businesses and residents during major construction along La Mesa Boulevard with roadways and sidewalks dug up, road closures, and disruptions, several changes are visible.

Before the La Mesa Conversations’ event began at the La Mesa Masonic Lodge on March 23, it was not really clear what would be covered. As long time La Mesa resident Joe Glidden observed, the event’s description, “The Future of Transportation in La Mesa,” was a little vague and he said he was not sure what that meant. As it turned out, the panelists focused on two forms of transportation: multimodal and public transit.

Even with an uncertain weather forecast indicating possible rain in the late afternoon, the roughly two-dozen riders came together at the designed rally point for this mission. For some of them, it was the second such mission on this Friday.

The mission was simple, though important for these riders, the vast majority of whom are veterans. Honor a fellow veteran, as he would be laid to rest at the Miramar National Cemetery. While many in the nation may have forgotten about the warriors from Vietnam, these riders have and will not.

Army veteran and Nebraska Cornhusker fan Director, Veterans Administration San Diego Regional Benefits Office Patrick Prieb began his Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) career in a small office in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he recalls knowing just about everyone. Working his way up the ladder, he joined the San Diego Regional Benefits Office as Director in July 2014, subsequent to the post having been vacant for some time. Immediately prior to coming to the San Diego office, he held a similar position in Seattle.

La Mesa Conversations, a relatively new organization with a stated mission “to create opportunities for La Mesans to explore issues together, sharing fresh ideas for a future that works for all of our residents,” presented “The Future of Downtown La Mesa” at the Masonic Lodge in La Mesa on Jan. 27. The event was billed to provide 30 minutes of introductions and initial panel presentations, following by an hour of “moderated conversation and questions and answers.”

On January 23, the San Diego United Veterans Council (UVC) held its first general session of 2016 at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park. According to its website, “The United Veterans Council of San Diego County, ‘Voice of Our Veterans’, is an alliance of Veterans and over 200 organizations that are either Congressionally Chartered Veterans Service Organizations or providers of services and support to Veterans.

On this chilly Saturday morning, at least by San Diego standards, they arrived at the designated staging point. True to the chilly temperatures, most sported leather jackets, while hoping for the forecasted higher temps later in the day. Carefully entering the staging area in a well-practiced orchestration managed by ground guides, they parked their motorcycles in neat rows, with the front wheels pointed out to enable an easy departure later in the morning. Dozens of motorcyclists, bikers if you will, were gathering in support of this year’s U. S.

When asked his views on the three most important veterans issues, U. S. Marine Corps veteran and Congressman Duncan Hunter (R–CA 5Oth District), quickly identified the first of the three—quality of care and access to care for our nation’s veterans.  Hunter is uniquely qualified to comment upon veteran and military matters, having served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine Corps artillery officer. Additionally, he was the first Marine combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan elected to Congress.

Congresswoman Susan Davis (D – California 53rd District) spoke of her views on the top issues facing our nation’s veterans. As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, the current ranking member on the House Armed Service Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and former member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, her knowledge of and perspective on veterans’ matters impact our community.